B-Yourself: Zachary James Westall

Name: Zachary James Westall

Age: 30

Hometown: Williamstown, Massachusetts

Education: University of New Hampshire, The Landscape Institute at Harvard University

Occupation: Landscape Design and Installation


What made you decide to become a landscape architect? 

I have loved plants and the outdoors my whole life, and my dad is an architect, which made me extra sensitive to the design and layout of people’s homes and space. I floundered after undergrad in various coffee shops and bakeries, and then one day, it just hit me like a ton of bricks—I should merge the two.


What brought you to Birmingham?

A great opportunity to transform the grounds of a historic estate in town


Do you plan to stay here? 

I do plan to stay in Birmingham. I like to think of this city as one of America’s best kept secrets. I think it is full of charm and hidden gems (not to mention the winters are far more manageable.)


Who is your favorite landscape architect?

Any person who can understand that nature made it first, and it is the job of the designer to organize it in a way that translates seamlessly. But if I had to choose one, it would be Olmstead, the father of the American parks. His work can be seen here in Birmingham in the Highland Park area. He used nature for drainage issues and whisking away sewage. He understood how nature, how plants, which are living things (I feel like people forget that sometimes), help make the world go ’round. And that is the key in design and life.You can’t take a cactus and stick it in a swamp. It simply won’t make it.


What plant fascinates you the most and why?

Tulips. In my opinion, it is the single most inefficient plant out there. One bulb creates one stem, which creates one flower. All that work of storing food and energy in the bulb over the winter for one flower. What a waste of energy—but I can’t deny their beauty. I love them, and I can’t help what I love.


If you could have dinner with any living/non-living who would it be? 

Dinners are too formal. I tend to cave under pressure sometimes. But if I could casually bump into Stephen Spielberg, I think I would like to pick is brain on his creativity.


What keeps you awake at night? 

Nighttime has this wonderful silence you can’t find during the day, not even in the darkest of rooms. It is at night that I have done some of my best work. 


What is your biggest achievement? 

I don’t have it complete yet, but when finished, it will be the the Coleman’s estate on Redmont.


How would your best friend describe you?

I didn’t know how to respond, so I asked her. She sent this in a text: “You are always there for me, rain or shine, sleet or snow, wind or high water, and that is a quality I couldn’t bear to see you without. Your honesty and compassion for people and life make me proud to be your best friend.” Needless to say, I was touched by that response.


What is your favorite childhood memory?

When my parents would come home from a date/dinner party, they always had this glamorous glow. Looking back and now being of drinking age, I realize that was probably the whiskey glow, but to me, it was how in love they always seemed to be. At night when the lights are just so, and they had come in flush from a cold winter night, my mother removing her scarf and revealing her ever-rosy cheeks and my father removing his long wool coat, dusting off the new snow—it was like peering into an Norman Rockwell painting. They are a jolly couple.


What is your favorite past time?

Being around people I enjoy


What inspires you most?

Nature, life—Is that too broad?


Interview and photograph by Angela Karen


8 Responses to “B-Yourself: Zachary James Westall”

  1. Eddie Aldridge says:

    I would like to talk to this young man and let him know whAt a good job he is doing. My number is 205 4080999. Thank you Eddie Aldridge

  2. Terry says:

    I would like to call Zachary for possible work at our home. How can I reach him?

  3. Zachary Westall says:

    Thanks so much for the kind comments.
    Here is my contact information:

    Zachary Westall
    Creative Landscape Design

  4. Martha Jane Patton says:

    I betcha spellcheck did this, but I’m sure Zach meant to credit the well-known landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, not “Homestead.”

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